Orange County, Fla., has a lot going for it. Best known as home to Disney World and other theme parks, the county thrives on great weather, great attractions and ... great technology? As the 2006 Digital Counties Survey revealed, Orange County is not only among the nation's top vacation destinations, it also tops the list of large counties best applying technology to the business of government.
The man behind that distinction is county CIO Rafael Mena. In the last few years, Mena helped Orange County develop into an exemplary model for IT-savvy government. Citizens of and visitors to Orange County have a wealth of e-government and other technology-enhanced services available to them. Whether it's transacting with the county, requesting information or even getting arrested, the county is using technology to improve residents' lives and government efficiency.
"It's all about people; it's all about providing good customer service," said Mena. "It's all about taking the time and working and explaining -- in nonbusiness terms -- solutions to their issues. That's a metric I track very closely. I want to make sure we have a user base that is satisfied with the service we provide, because without that we're out of business."
Capturing the No. 1 spot in the survey is due largely to Orange County's cutting-edge court system. From the county jail to the clerk to the judge, criminal justice is streamlined by allowing multiple agencies to interact and communicate in real time. The integrated justice system, Mena explained, "avoids the manual entering of the information multiple times by all these different agencies -- allowing the flow of people and information through the system to become more efficient."
Thanks to a commitment to wireless technology, county employees are also reaping the benefits of their high-tech government. But for all the success achieved serving citizens, businesses and visitors, Mena remains humble.
Chad Vander Veen is the former editor of FutureStructure.